Return to Conservation Biology Research on Reptiles

Gamble, T. and A.M. Simons. 2003. The commercial harvest of painted turtles in Minnesota. Final report submitted to the Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 50 pp.


Tens of thousands of Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) are commercially harvested in Minnesota each year for sale to biological supply companies and the pet trade. To date, little is known about the effects of this harvest. This report documents the first attempt to assess its impact. Our results indicate that Painted Turtle populations in Minnesota have been affected by commercial harvest activities. Harvest can lower the relative abundance of Painted Turtles and alter population demographies. We have also shown, through model simulations, that the removal of even a small proportion of the females from a population can negatively affect population viability. This suggests that an unregulated commercial harvest of Painted Turtles in Minnesota could easily become unsustainable. We discuss how these results are influenced both by Painted Turtle life history and turtle harvester behavior.

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